THE STORY of the Vauxhall Astra may have started more than three decades ago – but the eighth incarnation of the big-selling family hatch is definitely a car for the here and now.

Sleek, low-slung and with a plug-in hybrid powertrain, the Astra has matured into an all-rounder to grace the roads in 2023.

The exterior design is eye-catching, with confident lines and a dramatic crease running down the middle of the bonnet, all aided by the ‘electric yellow’ colour-scheme on my test car.

There’s also an appealing new interior to enjoy, while the hybrid set-up makes for strong performance.

Brentwood Live: The Vauxhall Astra

The latest Astra is built on the Stellantis Group’s EMP2 platform and is powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine that works in tandem with a single electric motor to deliver 180ps.

Acceleration is brisk, with the Astra capable of getting to 60mph in 7.7 seconds and performance is further boosted by 320Nm of electric torque.

Thanks to the 12.4 kWh battery, the Astra is good for 42 miles of pure electric motoring, if the stats are to be believed, and can go up to 88mph in EV mode.

The hybrid set-up makes for pleasing economy figures, although it’s vital to keep the battery topped up to achieve the best results.

The Astra feels well-planted and grippy when cornering, while the suspension is firm enough to satisfy drivers with a sporty outlook, although passengers might not agree.

Once you step inside, you’re greeted by a wonderfully well-integrated dash, with the highlight being the ‘Pure Panel’ – a wide housing that integrates two 10-inch displays for the digital instruments and the infotainment. The latter is angled nicely towards the driver for added ease-of-use.

Premium materials abound throughout the cabin, with a mix of smooth and textured surfaces, with scratch grey plastics kept to a minimum.

Brentwood Live: The Vauxhall Astra

The stylish Alcantara-trimmed seats are comfortable and supportive, with a sporty vibe.

There’s plenty of tech to enjoy, including natural voice recognition, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, two front USB connections, Intelli-HUD (Head-Up Display)a wireless charger for your mobile, eight speakers and Vauxhall Connect.

A panoramic sunroof adds to the ambience and floods the cabin with light.

Headroom and legroom in the front is decent, with the front seats having loads of adjustment. Things are a bit tighter in the back in terms of legroom, but headroom is sufficient.

The Astra has 422 litres of boot space with the rear seats up, and 1,389 litres with them folded down, offering decent practicality.

Brentwood Live: The Vauxhall Astra

Appearance-wise, the Astra looks the part from all angles, with clean lines and a low-slung appearance creating a dynamic silhouette.

It certainly has more flare than models that have gone before, exemplified by the ‘Vizor’-style front end flanked by LED headlights, which at the top of the range are upgraded to ‘Intellilux’ status, which gives each lamp 84 individual LED elements.

The high-mounted energy-saving rear LED lights harmonise with the look and you can add your own personal style with a choice of a black accent roof or keep it the same body colour.

Sports-style front and rear bumpers and 18-inch grey diamond-cut alloy wheels add the finishing touches in Ultimate trim.

The Lowdown

Vauxhall Astra Ultimate plug-in hybrid

ENGINE: 1.6 litres, 4 cylinders, VVT, common

BATTERY: 12.4kWh

RANGE: 42 miles on WLTP scale

CO2: 23-24g/km

ECONOMY: 256mpg

Max speed: 140mph (88mph Electric)

0-60MPH 7.7 seconds

PRICE: £40,900 on the road